When Jesus Comes
Thoughts from Mark 13
What will He find?
It will be an extremely difficult time on earth! I think that all of us would like to imagine that we will be long gone, into His presence. Jesus says in Mark 13:5-8, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines.”
It will not be a comfortable time to be here. Charlatans will abound confusing many. Conflict between peoples and nations will rise to a level of threat of safety for most, and we will feel the weight of anxiety. Many will suffer the pangs of hunger, and we can easily imagine that the numbers of those who die of hunger will be unimaginable. Even now, experts are admitting that something approaching 3 million people will die of hunger over the next few years as a direct result of the decisions that governments have made about how to handle COVID.
And these are just the beginnings of the global trauma! “These are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
Will I be ready?
Jesus does not hold back about these trying times. “But be on your guard.” The Bible is full of warnings, even and especially for His children. Not I think because He wants to threaten us, but because He loves us and doesn’t want us to be deceived.
Jesus understands better than all of us the warnings of the apostle Paul that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Our wrestling in comparison is difficult enough. For our flesh is daily waging a war against the desires of our new person within.
Added to our battle is one so fierce that it may in fact be well that we do no fully understand it. “ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Evil has set itself against us as children of God. This fleshly war within us is merely the tip of the spear of Satan‘s hatred for God. There is spiritual anarchy in heavenly places.
The children of God who are still here on this earth will feel the full weight of this spiritual anarchy. “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” Horrific things will be acted out upon those who look like and represent Jesus. Political forces will come against them. And even family forces will come against them. So much so that, “children will rise against parents and have them put to death.”
Will we be ready?
Jesus warns us multiple times in chapter 13 of Mark to be ready. What do ready people do to be ready?
They acknowledge the threat. Jesus never hides the coming difficulties from the disciples. Even when those threats mean bodily harm and death. “But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” (Mark 13:23)
They embrace the plan of God. Surely it should be easy to see that if God is love, He would never have intended a world of lawlessness. Lawlessness and the acts that it inspires never helps anyone. Lawlessness rips apart the human experience and leaves everyone wounded. God’s plan was and is a world where only righteousness lives. For those who belong to Jesus, the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness is the rule of order, animates their expectations. In the face of promised suffering, they have counted the cost. They are mentally and emotionally prepared to live whatever God allows to come their way.
They roll their anxiety over on God. We do not live ignorant of our emotions in times of difficulty. But we do not need to allow those emotions to govern our actions. And, so the apostle Peter encourages us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting (rolling) all your anxieties (over) on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
They continue working at the things for which God has created them. They have joyfully embraced that they were created to serve God. Jesus says, “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.” (Mark 13:33-36)
“And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake” (13:37)
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming....We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 2:28; 3:2-3)